ugly guitars


One of my favorite scenes in any Indiana Jones movie is the one where he gets an opportunity to pick the Holy Grail.

I think it was in the third movie…Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Anyway, he’s in this cave with the Templar who’s been guarding the Grail for years and Indiana’s Dad is with him.  There’s a couple of Nazis in there with him, too…a full on evil dude Nazi and this woman who was an almost girlfriend until she returned to the dark Nazi side full-time.

This ancient Templar is counseling them about the rules of choosing a chalice and of course the dude Nazi has to go first…he wants all the power the Grail promises.

He chooses the most beautiful and shiny chalice of the bunch and takes a satisfied swig from it…and…he turns into a melting wax head skeleton and that’s it for him.

Indiana is up next….and after much deliberation, he chooses a crude and common looking cup…one that looks like a peasant would use.  He tentatively takes a drink and nothing bad happens…he’s still Indiana Jones.

I remember the Templar said something like, “You have chosen wisely”.

Of course, after Indiana successfully chooses the cup, the Nazi woman takes it and tries to leave the chamber with it and all heck breaks loose. She dies and Indiana almost joins her until his father snaps him out of his enchantment.

That’s exactly how it feels when I’m picking out a guitar.

Maybe not completely…but I’ve learned that sometimes it’s the “ugly guitar” that holds the real power.

It’s funny, but when I go guitar shopping for friends and show some different guitars to them, it’s always the bright and shiny new guitar that they’re drawn to.

And, I suppose, why wouldn’t they be?  New things are better than old used things, right? It’s their money I’m hoping to influence them to spend….the shiny guitar looks a lot better.

Every once in the while, though, I’ll see some diamond in the rough hanging on the guitar store rack.  It might be kind of beat up…might have some finish wear…might look kind of old.  It might have some PATINA.

When I pick it up to play it, this beat up old guitar feels like it wants to jump up off my lap and dance around the room.  The first notes tell me something that the other new guitars can’t say.  This old beater has a story and plays like nothing I’ve ever heard before.

“How about this one?  It’s older…but it’s a great guitar.  How about this guitar?!”

“Nah…I think I’ll stick with this shiny one.”

Nobody ever turns into a melting wax head skeleton, but I want to be able to say at some point, like the Templar in the cave, ” You have chosen wisely”.

We can’t see what something is beyond what it looks like.

Our whole lives are like that…bling trumps character.  First impressions are important, but we need to get to the point where we’re willing to give the “ugly guitar” a chance.

We need to grow into the insight and willingness to look beyond the surface that, hopefully, maturity provides.

After all, nobody wants to turn into a melting wax head, anyway.

image from here.



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